Car hire logistics/strategies for May?

Old Mar 6th, 2022, 02:07 PM
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Car hire logistics/strategies for May?

Hello

We have decided (yesterday!) to attend an event near Market Harborough May 13-15, and to turn that into a month-long trip, roughly calendar May. Our first "2-glasses-of-wine" thought is along the lines of
.
-- fly USA to UK (airport TBD) ~ May 3 and recover from jetlag for a couple of days in an interesting place (we've been to London so often that elsewhere would be preferable!)

-- rent a car May 6-13ish, and ramble around south/mid Wales and/or Shropshire

-- attend our event May 13-15. We don't need a car for it, so perhaps repositioning to/from by train, eg, maybe a train to York or Leeds on May 16 to collect a car there )

-- rent a car for 1-2 weeks and explore the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District in the second half of May: villages and market towns, 1-3 hour hikes, back roads, pubs with rooms ....
.
Flights will be booked with miles so we have great flexibility in which airports we land at and depart from. My first inclination is that we should fly into Manchester or Birmingham, and then a month later depart from Manchester or (even Glasgow or Edinburgh if we want a couple of days in Scotland before returning)

This "plan" hinges on finding affordable car rentals. We'd prefer an automatic for the first rent (May 6-13) while we get our "other side" and navigating skills refreshed. Then a manual would be fine (worry about one thing at a time!). We last rented a car 6 years ago, EuropCar through AutoEurope, and had a mixed (and not entirely pleasant) experience.

As we continue our talking, research and planning, my questions for this group are:

1) what are your current strategies for finding good car rental rates for US visitors (we plan to use our VISA benefits for CDW insurance). AutoEurope? Directly with Avis / Enterprise / Arnold Clark?

2) Does our very preliminary idea sound feasible, or sensible, or foolish?

3) Should we try to extend our trip over the Jubilee weekend, or -- having no bookings anywhere yet -- exit the UK by June 1.

As I say, we've been thinking about this for 24 hours. If these big-picture logistics sound foolish, we will come up with another idea!

EJZ
EmJayZee is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2022, 06:43 AM
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I'd certainly start with Auto Europe, you may not get the price you want but you can always call them to press on price.

Automatics, not sure about Manchester being a good place to find them, but these guys might help Automatic Car Hire Manchester - Cheap Auto Car Rental Manchester Airport, UK (no knowledge of them). I admit that Europcar are not my favorite choice.

The Jubilee weekend, no one really knows how exciting it will be, I rather suspect that after Covid and Ukraine it will be pretty normal though with the odd street party and something naff on the TV. But I think there is an extra day's holiday stuffed in there which may mean more people do an extra-staycation making bookings a bit harder. Solution, book early.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 08:35 AM
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1) Start with AutoEurope -- probably 75% of the time they have the best all inclusive rates and usually really great customer service. I'm curious what went wrong that prior time.

2) Totally sensible and feasible

3) No one knows. I might disagree with bilboburgler a bit - with all the pent up demand things might actually be very busy and crazy . . . or not.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 09:30 AM
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janisj, you may be right. With fuel and food prices set to rocket maybe fewer people going away. We are living in weird times.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 09:54 AM
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Thank you for the replies.

1) I had not thought to call AutoEurope and dicker on price. I did note that for the same rental the rate at the AutoEurope UK site is half the rate at the AutoEurope US site but was not allowed to book at the UK site. My guess is the difference is the insurance inclusions, and I will call them in the next day or two to discuss. (janisj: by "all inclusive" do you mean "super cover" or "zero deductible" -- hand the keys and walk away?) I don't care for their pre-payment/voucher system but I do like that the have the renters backs .... mostly:

Sorry, poor syntax: AutoEurope (2016) was ultimately fine, though very slow in their support when EuropCar (which put us in a car significantly larger than we had reserved) claimed several days after the return that we had damaged the right rear corner: large dent. We had photos at pickup and drop off showing the vehicle condition (we suspect it was hit in their lot), but EuropCar was agressive, AutoEurope was not timely in the defense, and though it was ultimately sorted it was a headache after a very pleasant trip. We will deal with AutoEurope again, but never EuropCar or Hertz (in Germany).

2) Thanks for the endorsement. We are now mulling an alternative, which is to explore the Dales/Peak District by car for one week, and by local bus for one week (we just have 35L backpacks each). We do like slow travel on local transport -- eavesdropping, people watching, chatting -- but at the moment I am utterly confused by the Dales and Peak District bus schedules.

3) We are more concerned about availability of overnight bookings for the four nights than festivities. Plans for that weekend will determine when and where we exit the UK. Being north we are leaning toward snagging a few days in southern Scotland and exit from EDI).

Automatic: last night I reserved an automatic economy (Ford Focus) at Enterprise/BHX for May 6-13 for $430/week, about half the cost of the smallest available automatic at LHR, MAN, or LGW. The same rate showed up directly at the Enterprise website, and through Costco. Whether it really materializes when we arrive is another matter (I do wonder why it is available) but we have booked it through Costco as a "bird in hand" while we research more.

Heading to Wales the next decision is: pickup at 0900 for a full day on Day One after spending the night in Coventry or at BHX (thus returning by 0900), or pick up at 1500 on Day 1, have a leisurely drive to, say, Shrewsbury, and return at 1500 on Day 7 to catch a train or bus to Market Harborough.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 10:42 AM
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generally fodorites don't support driving on the first day. Not only is everything different from normal, there are for example more round abouts etc, but humans suffer from micro-sleeps. You think you are alert but your brain stops working for a few seconds. Nasty

You may know all this but ask your passenger to remind the driver "left hand side of the road" every time they get into the car, it is too easy to head off on the wrong side and frankly it is a short drive. (999) gets your to emergency services like ambulance, (111) gets you medical advice
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 11:20 AM
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I never drive on the "first day" -- far too dangerous, even if one is going to Germany and driving on the "not-other" side. And there is the stress related to late flights and rental reservations being cancelled and so on.

In general I get into the swing of right hand drive quickly, but avoid round-abouts for the first couple of days. Or longer, though we are seeing more and more round-abouts in North America.

Our bodies will land in the UK on May 3, and our brains will follow a couple of days later. I am leaning to a May 6 afternoon pickup (perhaps take a morning train London to Coventry, look at the cathedral, then $4 bus to BHX for car pickup), and a short drive to Shrewsbury in the late afternoon.


Last edited by EmJayZee; Mar 7th, 2022 at 11:22 AM.
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Old Mar 7th, 2022, 11:42 AM
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Makes sense
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